Prolonged Sitting Can Cause a Variety of Health Issues
November 30th, 2017 by maccauley-marketing
At the Synergy Sports Wellness Institute™ we have a great deal of experience treating a wide variety of common sports injuries, but we also know that health-related issues can affect those who lead more sedentary lifestyles as well. We know that the human body functions most efficiently when it is standing upright with its weight evenly distributed between the feet and the hips balanced directly under the spine. Unfortunately, most people today spend the majority of their days sitting behind a desk. This time spent in a seated posture can cause a number of problems across the entire musculoskeletal system and may result in chronic pain or discomfort. In fact, according to a 2017 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, greater total time spent sitting is actually associated with a higher overall risk of premature death.
When a person is seated, the pelvis, spine, shoulders, legs, and feet are no longer directly engaged in maintaining the body’s posture. The muscles of the hips and spine do not have an opportunity to stretch and extend. Eventually, those muscles become shortened and compressed to the point that secondary muscles are required to initiate standing movements. This can, in turn, lead to overuse of those secondary muscles, potentially leading to back, hip, knee and foot pain. Since the feet do not have to bear the weight of the body or deal with ground reaction forces when the body is seated, their system of arches slowly weakens. The feet can become less able to accept the body’s weight upon standing, causing fallen arches that may require orthotics to correct.
Long periods of time in a seated posture can cause upper body problems as well. When a person is working in front of a computer or driving a car, for example, the arms and hands are engaged in front of the torso. This causes the shoulders to round forward and the spine to flex, restricting the movement of the muscles and connective tissue in the torso. This can potentially result in shoulder injuries, like damage to the rotator cuff or shoulder impingement. The neck and head must also adjust by arching upward, which can lead to further imbalances, pain and dysfunction.
Moreover, lack of movement can be particularly damaging to the spine. The disks of cartilage that act as shock absorbers between the individual vertebrae that make up the spinal column do not have an independent blood supply. Instead, they work like sponges, absorbing and expelling blood as they move. While sitting, the sustained contraction of the muscles that extend the spine reduces the nutrition that reaches the disks and increases the pressure between the disks themselves. This may lead to a herniated disk or chronic lower back pain.
Fortunately, no matter what your age or activity level might be, the expert chiropractors and massage therapists at Synergy Sports Wellness Institute are here to help. If you feel as though you may be suffering because of the time that you spend seated, or If you would like to learn more about the many other services that we offer, please give us a call to schedule a chiropractic or rehabilitation appointment. Be sure to follow us on social media for the latest news and updates as well.